Saturday, 16 November 2013

A red on the terrace

Recently my husband went over to our friends farm, Alby Downs to help with some construction work. After they had finished we relaxed with a red wine on their gorgeous verandah. Recently some one turned up on their door step telling them that in the late 1800's their relatives had built the house. They gave our friends an incredible photograph of their relatives standing on the verandah with their two young children. Such a treasure of a photograph to have.  On the old photograph the floor was originally boards and the verandah roof was bullnosed. They hope to restore the verandah back to original.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


In just over two weeks the grape vines have gone from being dormant, to being awash with masses of green leaves and bursting with the most minute bunches of baby grapes.

Growing your own gives you such a sense of satisfaction.

Last year we had just two tiny bunches. This year there's hope. Perhaps we should get ready to squish and stomp and make our own wine.

The photo is not the best, but you get the idea. 

Jaundiced Citrus

We have had the wettest September in over 40 years. Our citrus are planted along the fence line. The soil here is rich and loamy, but with the rain it has become a swamp. We have removed all of the pea straw mulch from around them, hoping the soil will dry up. I'm assuming it is because of this water logging that the leaves have started to turn yellow. The trees look very sad.  I have treated them all with Iron Chelate which hopefully should remedy their iron levels. Time will tell......

Decadent Artichokes

What a truly magnificent plant the Artichoke is. I had read that they grew to around 75cm in height. I think ours may have tapped into the nearby leech drains as they stand proudly at 1.5 Mtrs. They have been in for just 12 months and each of the plants has about 8 Artichokes on them. 

I picked the two largest, drizzled them in lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them for an hour. Yum, yum, yum

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Royal Agricultural Show Day

This year we decided to embrace our country lifestyle by entering some items into the show.

Hans had NEVER gardened until we moved to York. His veges have been fantastic,  so he decided to enter 2 categories. The Beetroot and the Cabbage.  The Beetroot is an heirloom variety from The Diiggers Club called Chioggia Beetroot. They look amazing with their large bountiful leaves and stems.

We also entered photographs into four classes; A set of three photo's to tell a story, An overseas scene, A flower photograph and a child at play.

Imagine our excitement to find Hans won first with his Beetroot and second with his Cabbage.  He also won first for his overseas scene and a third for his flower photo.

I also took out a first with the three photo's that tell a story. The photo's were of our gorgeous Grandson trying his first mulberry. I love these photo's of him. The fact he is so photogenic certainly helps!

It's all about the Kumquats

This week it has all been about the Kumquat.  Of all our citrus trees this is my favourite. We planted it around two years ago and it is so lush and healthy.  The dark glossy leaves contrast so beautifully with the stunning perfect orange fruit.

The variety we have is the  'Nagami' kumquat.  We chose this as it requires a hot summer, ranging from 25 °C to 38 °C, but can withstand frost down to about −10 °C  without injury.  Last summer we got up to 43 degrees and our recent winter we suffered frosts when the temperature plummeted to -5. Even though our summer was more extreme than recommended, the beautiful tree came through unscathed.

So what to do with this beautiful fruit?  As it was show weekend I decided to enter a plate of four small cakes.  I searched the net and found a fantastic recipe for Kumquat and coconut cupcakes on the 'Straight From The Farm' blog.

Unfortunately I didn't win, but I am sure had the judges judged by taste, it would have been a different matter. Instead they peeled back a small part of the patty case and just looked at the side. They really missed out on the subtle taste of the kumquat mixed with coconut and coconut milk. I had also candied some sliced Kumquat for decoration.  I took a batch to work and they were a real hit.

The photo below is not of what I entered, but a batch I made a few days before to taste test. The show ones were finished off much nicer.  I was so stressed with getting them ready in time that I forgot to photograph them.

This is the second harvest, the first was in summer, so this one was quite small. What to do with the last bowful left on the tree.  My Dad was raving earlier in the year about some  Kumquats in Brandy that his neighbour gave to him.  I collected the last of them, washed and dried them, then pierced them with a sterilised darning needle. I packed them into a 1 litre clip top jar and poured over 1.5 cups caster sugar and then filled the jar with Brandy.  They should be ready for Christmas to serve over icecream. Yum can't wait, they sound delicious

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Fields Of Gold

This time of year is stunning in York and the surrounding towns. The once red dry fields are now groaning with the beautiful tall crops of Canola.  Their masses of yellow blossoms look upwards to the sun and gently sway on the soft breeze. 

Known as Rapeseed, it is one of the oldest plants cultivated by man, Its use was documented in India as far back as 4,000 years ago and its use in China and Japan goes back at least 2,000 years.

In Northern Europe with limited use, it was predominately used in oil lamps. During World War 11 it was in high demand as a lubricant for steam engines in naval and merchant ships. 

After the war the sale and use of Rapeseed decreased dramatically and farmers needed to find another use for it.  In the early 70's it was first used as a food product with its name changed to Canola.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

My little helpers visit

My daughter and family along with their friends visited today. The three kids has a fantastic day. They potted up some peas to take home, bandicooted for potatoes, harvested some pumpkins, put hay around the new fruit trees and helped wheel greens to the compost. I tried on numerous occasions to get them to come inside to do some craft, but they wouldn't budge. What a great healthy day of learning for them. Special times

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Superfood Kale

This year our Kale is coming on beautifully. We have planted two types, Curly Kale and Tuscan Kale. Tonight we used a few leaves with dinner. My husband is Dutch so I made a traditional Stamppot. Stamppot is a mashed potato base with an additional veg mashed and added. Usually Kale or carrot. I
added the Kale and served it with a good German sausage on top. Delicious. 

Monday, 17 June 2013

The serenity

I've had a whole weekend down in the city for family obligations and to work there today. The traffic is horrendous. I was stuck in peak hour for so long this morning. How lovely to come home, sit on the balcony and look at the stars with a red in hand 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Luchious Red Pomegranates

When I was a child my Grandparents brought me back a Pomegranate from Spain, it was the most incredible fruit I had ever seen.  I sat outside covered in a cloth and using a needle, picked out and ate the luscious red juicy seeds.
Our Pomegranate bush was one of the first plants we put in.  It is now just two years old.  Last year we had a crop of just two, which the Parrots attacked and devoured.  This year we covered it with a net and have had a crop of 14.
I picked one early on when the skin was red and the Pomegranate looked a good size, but it was bitter and to tart to eat.
After research we found they should be left to ripen on the bush.  Once they start to crack open they are ripe and ready to eat.
Today I picked them all.  What a mission to take off the net as the bush has super sharp spikes.
I set about removing the lovely red pips. I split the Pomegranate open and under water started to remove the pith and pour out the seeds.  The pith floats to the top of the water so you can skim it off.
You are then left with just the seeds.

The seeds were put into a blender and covered with about 2 inches of water and half a cup of sugar.  The mix was blended for a few minutes and then poured through a sieve.  The deep red juice is ready to drink.

Divine.  My kitchen looks like there has been some sort of massacre though, red juice is everywhere.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

This beats city driving

I had to drive 140km round trip today for work.  What a beautiful drive.  Sun was shining, lovely music playing in my car.  Totally stress free........ a far cry from driving in the city

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Country Life Is Tough On Shoes

Since moving here I have had to throw out 6 pairs of shoes. I have a wardrobe full of heels that I never get to wear.  Life here is pretty hard on the feet.  So much mud in winter and rough terrain. After a snake slid past my feet whilst gardening, I now wear only wellies in the garden.  Am now on my second pair.  Out with the old and in with the new.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Our House Name

Yay, so excited.  I ordered our house name 'Misty Ridge' from  It arrived within a week of ordering it.  What fantastic service.  (Having to wait for hubby to hang it was another story) We just love it.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Easter Lily

Our block is one that has been subdivided from a 150 year old property, The Mount.  I just love at the end of March when these little spikes pop their heads through the ground and blossom into a patch of vibrant pink lilies.  Originating from South Africa they are very common around towns established in the mid 1800's.  Perhaps the first settlers brought the bulbs out with them.